Who Could Be Found Liable for a Car Accident on Private Property?
Posted on August 11, 2016
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Most drivers in Texas understand what to do if they are involved in car accidents on public roads or highways: exchange insurance information, take pictures and go to the hospital. A car accident on private property, however, is a special case that may require unique actions. Liability (financial responsibility) for a car accident on private property may not follow the same rules and regulations that apply to typical car accident cases.
Common Causes of Car Accidents on Private Property in Texas
There are similarities and differences between car accidents on public and private properties. Many of the same common crash causes apply to both types of accidents. Driver mistakes such as driving distracted, speeding and not paying attention, for example, are the top causes of car accidents everywhere. However, private properties can contain unique risks that increase the odds of a vehicle collision, such as:
Driving under the influence. A driver may be more likely to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol on private property. After drinking at a house party, for instance, a driver may assume that the risk of being pulled over and arrested is less than on a public road.
Poor property maintenance and road defects. Private property owners may not be as diligent about maintaining their properties as government entities that own public roads and highways. This could result in dangerous property defects, such as potholes and uneven surfaces.
Design defects. Issues with the design of a piece of property, such as a poorly designed parking lot or narrow drive, could increase the risk of a car accident. Lack of signage, such as missing warning signs or crossing animal signs, could also cause a wreck.
In Texas, the responsibility of paying for a car accident and related damages, including medical bills and property repairs, falls on the driver or party at fault for causing the wreck. That party’s insurance provider will be financially responsible, or liable. It is up to the injured accident victim to determine and prove liability.
How to Determine Liability for a Car Accident on Private Property
The steps that you should take after a car accident on private property are different from an accident on public property. The police cannot give you an accident report, as they do not have jurisdiction over a private roadway. You can still dial 911, however, and request an incident report. This is a less official report that could still document the crash. The police officer may or may not be able to give you an incident report. If not, request one from the owner of the property. If you are injured, call first responders to request an ambulance.
Look around and gather any potential evidence. This may include photographs of the crash, the names of those involved and any eyewitnesses, and footage from a surveillance camera installed on the property. If you have injuries, medical expenses or property damage, it will be up to you or your car accident lawyer to prove someone else is at fault. This is the only way to obtain financial compensation if you do not have first-party car insurance available, such as collision or comprehensive coverage.
The party that is liable for your private property car accident will depend on the cause of the crash. If another driver caused your wreck, he or she may pay for your losses. Other liable parties could include the owner of the private property or a social host, if that person knowingly gave alcohol to someone underage or visibly intoxicated. You may need to hire an attorney for a professional investigation to determine liability. When you are ready to make an insurance claim for a car accident on private property, an experienced attorney can assist you with the legal process.